New warning as council catches fraudsters

By Steve Hayes 08/03 Updated: 15/03 10:28

'YOU will be caught' - this was the stark message from Stratford District Council bosses as they named and shamed benefit fraudsters.

The council emphasised its commitment to cracking down on fraud after retrieving thousands of pounds in a series of prosecutions.

They include Karl Vernon, 43, of South Green Drive, Stratford who pleaded guilty to failing to declare employment which resulted in overpayments of benefit totalling £2,780.64 following intervention by the department for work and pensions and the council. He was fined and ordered to pay costs.

While 39-year-old Zoe Grisenthwaite, of Drayton Avenue, now of Hill View, Stratford, was handed a 12 month conditional discharge after she pleaded guilty to failing to declare a change in employer which resulted in overpayments of £9,410.91.

Ronald Burke, a 66-year-old, of Hertford Road, Stratford, pleaded guilty to failing to declare employment that resulted in overpayments of £4,123.95. He was given a community service order and ordered to pay costs.

And 46-year-old David Batchelor, of Kingley Avenue, Alcester, also pleaded guilty to failing to declare employment that resulted in overpayments of benefit of £2,133.71. He was also fined and ordered to pay costs.

In all of these cases the full amount of the overpayment must be repaid to the council in addition to fines imposed.

Coun Valerie Hobbs, of the district council, insisted the council would deal with fraudsters with a firm hand.

She said: "The council is determined to deal firmly with the small minority of claimants who do not report changes in their circumstances promptly.

"These prosecutions are the result of hard work put in by our officers and the Department for Work and Pensions, and it sends out a clear message to anyone thinking of committing benefit fraud that they won't get away with it."

Anyone with suspicions someone is committing benefit fraud can report them by contacting Counter Fraud Hotline 01789 260 486.

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